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TPM Industry 4.0

Here’s how you can gain the benefits of TPM in Industry 4.0


Updating proven productivity methods like TPM for Industry 4.0 will pay off. Reduce costs and increase efficiency by blending process with digital tools.

26 August 2020

Our digital world is complex enough to make anyone’s head spin. 

Industry 4.0 is rapidly changing how we approach manufacturing and, while exciting, these changes can significantly impact your profits and product quality. As our machinery and processes become more powerful and complex, companies must adapt and implement strategies that will allow the human element of their production to scale effectively with existing mechanical and digital components.

Lean productivity philosophies like Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) have been working towards these goals for decades. This article will aim to describe how Industry 4.0 and a modern digital ecosystem can help bring methods like TPM, and their benefits, into the modern factory floor.


A brief history of TPM.

Not savvy with TPM?  

Even if you don’t know it by name, you’re almost certainly familiar with its principles - and the benefits - if you work in the modern manufacturing industry. TPM tackles the intersection of productive maintenance and employee engagement from a holistic and scalable perspective.

This revolutionary philosophy began in Japan during the mid-20th century, led by lean pioneer Seiichi Nakajima. He and his peers identified giving individual employees ownership of machine maintenance to be a scalable, efficient methodology for increasing machine productivity and overall productivity in a manufacturing setting. This philosophy, combined with scalable and data-driven improvements over time was the recipe to success for many companies in the late 20th century.



Objectives of TPM

TPM uses 8 pillars to achieve the lofty goal ofperfect production.” That is, a manufacturing environment where there are:

  • No breakdowns
  • No small stops or slow running
  • No defects 
  • No accidents

Sounds intense, yeah? You might be wondering - how can a real-world manufacturing operation possibly achieve these results? 

TPM is an ideal to be worked towards, rather than a constant state of perfection. Through daily practice, increased employee responsibility, training, and knowledge sharing designed around continuous improvement, manufacturers can put a combination of techniques in place. Manufacturers work towards these goals, little by little, and day by day, with a constant reexamination of processes and procedures.

Actualizing the benefits of TPM is a long-term practice with a big payoff. When done right, TPM has been proven to:

  • Reduce waste
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase productivity (production output)
  • Reduce defects


Built on 5S

Many TPM applications are built using a methodology known as 5S as the starting point. This is an organizational strategy, based around the Japanese concepts of seiri (整理), seiton (整頓), seisō (清掃), seiketsu (清潔), and shitsuke (躾).

What does 5S do? In a sentence, it ensures “a work environment that is clean and well-organized.”

Translated, these words mean “Sort," "Set In order," "Shine," "Standardize," and "Sustain." They describe the ideal way that an operator manages his or her materials and workspace during daily work. 

This methodology establishes rules and creates a mindset of efficiency and order. As such, it helps connect the individual worker to his or her space and tools in a productive and efficient way and lays the groundwork for a system like TPM to be as effective as possible. 


Did you know: tools like digital work instructions have been proven to improve 5S scores for manufacturers?

Fewer Defects and Less Downtime = Increased Efficiency

The 8 Pillars of TPM

These are the core values of TPM that are applied to operators and production lines in a manufacturing operation.

1. Autonomous maintenance.

This pillar is all about placing the initiative for maintenance on the individual employee. Rather than only relying on a scheduled maintenance workflow, machine operators can do diagnostic, troubleshooting, and maintenance work under their own autonomy.

Not only does this catch more problems before they can cause expensive downtime, it also gives a sense of agency to the individual workers on the factory floor.


Example - Digital work instructions on mobile devices give operators the maintenance knowledge they need, right when they need it. This gives the operator even greater freedom and efficiency, as they’re not burdened with hard to find hard-to-use paper and PDF work instructions.



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2. Planned maintenance.

The compliment to Autonomous Maintenance, this principle calls for using shop floor data and used to predict machine failure, downtime, and maintenance needs. This allows regular maintenance to happen before problems arise and for work to be done at the most convenient time.

Used in tandem with autonomous maintenance, manufacturers can strike a balance between predictability and adaptability.


Example - Industry 4.0 is connecting individual manufacturing processes at a vast scale. Machines can deliver more - and more accurate data - than ever before in real time. This allows focused improvement to be approached from an accurate and holistic perspective that can be scaled throughout an entire value chain. Predictive maintenance sensors - integrated directly into a machine - help remove the guesswork from planned maintenance. 



3. Quality management.

This is the process of using root cause analysis [RCA] to determine the reasons for product defects in production. After these issues are identified, measures can be put into place to eliminate defects at the source - saving manufacturers money and preserving the quality of their end-product.


Example - One of the drawbacks of traditional RCA methods is that they can be difficult to standardize across production sites within a global supply chain. Connected and digitized factories are able to help standardize and improve these processes by making information instantly available around the world. On top of this, manufacturers can leverage the power of collective knowledge to perform better and more informed analysis.



4. Focused improvement.

This part of TPM sees employees working together in small groups in order to improve routine processes and become more proficient in their daily work. Rather than only learning individually, they can pool their collective talents and knowledge to solve problems and improve. 

Example - Digital skills profiles help supervisors identify where individual employees need improvement in their skills portfolios and make more informed decisions about focused improvement. Need to pair a novice with an expert? Digital tools make that information available from a holistic perspective in an instant and also allow manufacturers to deliver relevant content in order to close the growing manufacturing skills gap.

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5. Early equipment management.

A fundamental element of TPM is putting new learnings into practice in a sustainable and effective way. This pillar involves incorporating collective knowledge about machine errors into the machine design process itself. Learnings from daily use can be involved in the design process itself, and thus machines on the shop floor can keep getting more efficient and reliable.


Example - Industry 4.0 is the age of big industrial data. Smarter machines and more automated processes mean that data collection (about faults and inefficiencies) can become complex on the factory floor. Some digital work instruction platforms allow employees to capture feedback and suggestions as they perform their daily tasks. This encourages accountability and also allows fixes, tips, and best practices to be captured immediately to be used for continuous improvement.



6. Education and training.

TPM mandates that regular training takes place to meet productivity and maintenance goals and fill gaps in a particular team’s skills and knowledge base. Much like in TWI, an emphasis is placed on mentorship and carefully monitored career development.


Example - Combined with the employee skills profiles mentioned above, digital tools can be an incredibly powerful way to assess and facilitate learning in a manufacturing environment. Classroom learning is often ineffective - and digital OPLs and work instructions delivered on mobile devices allow workers to learn-while-doing during on-the-job training. Experiential learning actually improves knowledge retention and decreases an operator’s time to productivity. 


Onboarding process NOW



7. Safety, health, and environment.

This is standard across most manufacturing and productivity philosophies, and TPM is no exception. TPM sets a goal of “zero accidents” as its key metric and mandates that all policies, procedures, and training practices work towards this goal.


Example - Digitization poses both an increased risk and a solution for common safety concerns in manufacturing. More complex processes, machinery, and automation mean a higher margin of error. But new tools for education and training, coupled with novel solutions for mobile and wearable devices, mean that the manufacturing workforce is more informed and better trained than ever before. 



8. Administrative & office.

TPM acknowledges that maintenance and productivity goals need to be approached from a holistic perspective, and that includes back office administration. The principles of employee autonomy, responsibility, and continuous improvement are thus applied to administrative, logistic, and human resources applications.


Example - It shouldn’t come as a surprise that digital processes are changing the way we approach administrative tasks in manufacturing. Thanks to real-time data, comprehensive skills profiles, and more transparent and faster supply chains, the processes we rely on to keep our production running smoothly can improve as well. These digital solutions also help bring administrative processes to the shop floor itself by democratizing the knowledge capturing process and continuing the cycle of continuous improvement on a multi-department level.



TPM for a digital world.

Since the 1970s, the above processes have helped make countless manufacturers more efficient and cost effective. TPM embodies a philosophy of individual accountability and focuses on improving ways of working every day. But in order to stay effective, basic TPM principles will need to incorporate new ways of thinking.

The shop floor of the future is run on data driven continuous improvements by a generation of tech savvy workers. Proven programs like TPM that capitalize on both continuous improvement and individual responsibility are the ideal use case for digital tools that scale maintenance, training, and productivity to meet the pace and demand of Industry 4.0.


Picture of Chris

Chris loves to share his expertise on future-proof work instruction software for frontline teams in manufacturing. Particularly, how digital, visual work instructions can make a lasting impact on motivation, productivity, and operational excellence culture.

26 August 2020